The Butler Did It
When the Lord’s daughter goes missing and the police can’t come right away, it falls on another to solve the crime.
Dear Mother and Father,
Have you ever been in love? I mean real love?
Everyone is looking for that kind of relationship.
Love has finally come to me and I have run off with my one true love
Please don’t look for me
Maybe you don’t believe me, but please
Everyone, I have found happiness. I may return some day once you have forgiven me.
Simon should be pitied. For being paired with me, a faithless young woman
Is not something to be proud of. Please do not think
Evil of me to want to spare you,
Andrew Felton stood by the door watching Lord and Lady Harfield’s reaction to the letter he had found in their daughter’s room. Her fiance, Simon Arbor, sat down on the bed in disbelief rubbing his hands together. Andrew found the letter when he was sent to find the reason for her tardiness.
“Felton, call your father-in-law! He’s the Detective Inspector isn’t he?” Lord Harfield yelled. He was looking at the coarse fiber rope that was tied to the bedpost and hanging out the window.
“Yes, Sir,” Felton confirmed.
“Bring him here. We have to find my daughter!”
“Right away, Sir!” Felton ran down to the foyer where the family telephone had been installed, and cranked the handle to connect with the operator. While he waited to be connected with the police station he looked at the entryway. There were light traces of black mud tracked inside leading to the dining room. He knew that mud and got mad at his boys whenever they played in the cemetery.
“I hate cemetery mud!” he muttered to himself just as the call was connected.
The chipper voice of his father-in-law came over the phone. “Is that you, Andrew? How are Amelia and the kids?”
“They’re fine, Detective Inspector.”
“Andrew, is everything alright at the Harfield’s?”
“No, Sir. Sarah Harfield has run off with some unknown young man under auspicious circumstances, and her parents wish for you to come and point us to where she might have run off to.”
“Why haven’t they asked you to help?” the old police man said.
“Thank you, Father, but I am here as a butler not a member of the police squad, and have other duties I need to attend to. This might also be more than I can handle alone. Can you come out and help?”
“It will take me a little while to get there, and I’ll have some of the local officers ask if they’ve seen Sarah Harfield doing anything suspicious. Promise me you’ll keep an eye open until I arrive. And then only half an eye and your whole brain after I get there.”
“I’ll do what I can sir.”
Felton returned to Sarah’s room. “The Detective Inspector said he’ll be out as soon as he is able. Until then may I suggest that we leave the room and not touch anything else. They might lead to a clue.”
“Good idea,” Simon agreed and hung back as the rest moved to the door.
As he turned out of the door, Felton saw Simon bend down as if to tie his shoe and pick something up from the floor. Simon put his hands in his coat pockets as he left the room. What had he picked up?
When they were out in the hall the men went down to the salon to wait for the inspector. Lady Harfield decided to go to her room instead. She was in such a state that Felton had to escort her there.
“Felton,” she said as he moved to leave.
“Ma’am,” he responded.
“Sarah isn’t the type to just go running off like that. I know she didn’t trust Simon all that much, but I also know that she wouldn’t run away with someone we’ve never met. Please make sure your father-in-law knows this. And find my girl. She’s in distress I just know it.”
“I will tell him. And I will help find Miss Sarah. I did not hear the sound of an engine after Mr. Arbor arrived, so they cannot have gone far. we’ll find her don’t worry.”
“Thank you, Felton. You are so good to us.”
“It was you who gave me a chance when I was recommended. You also let me have my family close by. So I will do all I can to protect your family,” Felton said closing her door.
Felton went in to check on the men before going below to have the cook make up a tray for them since dinner had been ruined. When he got there he found Simon and Lord Harfield talking. Simon looked impeccable as ever in a fresh change of clothing. How the man found time to look so pristine was beyond comprehension.
When he made it below stairs he found the cook washing and cleaning up the makings of a small meal. “Are you sure you want more, Andrew? Mister Arbor came down not to long ago asking for a tray. He even insisted on taking it up himself. He’s such a nice man.”
“I’m sure, Fanny. The Master hasn’t eaten yet and Lady Harfield is in bed. She might want something too.”
“I heard what is happening, the poor dear. I can’t think of who Miss Sarah would run off with. She hasn’t been with anyone since before Mr. Arbor arrived and has been devoted to him since they started dating. Well it’s none of my business who she wants to be involved with. I’ll send Tilly up with a small tray for her Ladyship. I still can’t think why Mister Arbor didn’t have the tray with him.”
“I can’t either. But I’ll find out where the tray went,” Felton said wondering if the two mysteries were related.
With everyone occupied Felton returned to Sarah’s room to look around. Earlier, when he had gone in looking for her, he found the place almost immaculate except for the rope, the letter and one of her drawers on her desk was sticking slightly out. He had pushed it back in out of habit. He now returned and opened it.
Inside he found a worn leather journal kept by the patriarchs of the family. It kept a list of their family tree and all of the descendants. Several of the pages had bookmarks and there were some other notes written in Sarah’s fine script. The last note was dated that morning. “Simon is not the grandson of James Arbor. James Arbor was a catholic priest and never had children.”
Along with the journal there were newspaper clippings of women found murdered shortly after their marriages in different parts of the country. The dates spanned several years time. Sarah had always been a knowing one, prone to deep thought. And usually so well written too.
Felton went back to the letter and looked it over with greater scrutiny. There he found the first letters of each line spelled ‘Help Me’ and the first words of the second said ‘Simon is Evil’. He put the papers and journal all back in their drawer and turned to go. His shoe knocked into a small clump of dark dirt. While he was looking at the dirt he noticed a button next to the bed skirt. It reminded him that Simon picked something up earlier. He needed to check that man’s rooms.
He had just closed the door to Sarah’s room when a footman arrived.“Sir, the Detective Inspector is here,” the footman said when Felton came out of Sarah’s room.
“Thank you, James. Please send him up to this room and inform him that I will be here momentarily. I just need to check on one more thing.” The footman left and Felton went to Simon’s rooms.
The rooms the family had given Simon while he was staying with them were at the far end of the hall. The door was locked, but he had a key to every room in the house, and he didn’t have to search for it on the key ring.
Simon Arbor had shown up six months ago claiming to be the grandson of a distant relative James Arbor. The Arbor line had split some time from the main line of the family but the head of the family kept tabs on them for a while. Simon claimed to be the grandson of James Arbor with the paperwork to prove he was the last in that line. In an attempt to heal the breach he had been allowed to stay at the house off and on since then
Simon always presented himself as well dresses and even mannered. Inside the rooms was anything but. The suit he had been wearing before Felton went into Lady Harfield’s room, along with matching shoes, was thrown in the corner covered in food stains. The white shirt tossed with it. He noticed it was missing a couple of buttons. He looked in the suit coat pocket and discovered the missing button. It might be what he had picked up in Sarah’s room.
He put everything back and exited the room locking it. He joined the party just as they reached the top of the stairs.
“...Why would she have done this? We were going to get married at the end of the month!” Simon had a bewildered look on his face as he spoke. Lord Harfield looked stoic and detached as he lead the Detective Inspector and some of the local constables followed along with another man with stripes on his uniform showing he was the superior of his father-in-law.
“Ah! Andrew, my boy! Sorry it took so long, What can you tell us?” the Detective Inspector asked his son-in-law when he saw him standing at the door.
“I think I know what happened. Let me show you what I know. First, I had everyone leave after we found the note and locked the door so no one could meddle. I have been the only one in.” He unlocked the door and went to the desk and grabbed the note and handed it to the inspector.
“I would like to point out the first letters of the first paragraph and the first words of the second.”
The Detective Inspector’s eyes widened as he looked at it with more detail. Simon moved to look closer at the note too. But the inspector instead handed it to one of the juniors who put it in an envelope. “Good job. Anything more in here?”
“Yes, Sir. The rope you see. There it is rather coarse and the fibers would have gotten stuck in the hands of who ever used it to climb and there are some spots along it that look like blood. So whoever used it would have some rather sore hands. There hasn’t been any engine sounds in the area since Mr Arbor returned this morning, so I don’t think she left by car. I believe she was taken against her will, and I think that she might be really close by .”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because she knew that things weren’t right sir and her kidnapper hasn’t had the chance to move her yet.”
“Sir,” one of the junior officers said pointing to the floor. “Look! There is some dark dirt on the floor!” Everyone went over to the dirt and looked at it closely.
“That dirt came from the cemetery,” Felton said. “I have seen it all over the house today. I hate that mud. It’s impossible to get out of fabric and off of shoes until it dries all the way.”
“Then what are we waiting for lets go to this cemetery you mentioned,” the detective inspector said. Felton watched Simon as they left. Simon paused and looked the hall to his own room. Then he shook his head and clenched a red tinged fist before following the rest of the men out to the cemetery.
When they got there they saw two sets of prints of the same size going and coming, but one set was heavier on the way into the place of the dead than when it came back. “What is over that way,” the Detective Inspector asked.
“The family mausoleum,” Lord Harfield said his face looked bewildered for a moment. “You mean she could be there? That thing is supposed to be airtight!”
Not caring for the mud the police and members of the house ran toward the crypt located farther back into the cemetery. When they got there they could see that the lock and door had small, recent scratch marks.
“Felton, the Key!” Lord Harfield said as Felton was already stepping forward with a large heavy iron key.
They pushed the heavy door open and lying just inside was Sarah Harfield. Her father ran to her and removed her gag.
“Oh, My Darling!,” Simon cried picking her up. “Who could have done this to you? I have to get you to hospital!” He carried her limp form out of the stone building.
Felton looked around quickly. “Interesting how one of Cook’s trays is here and food scattered all over as if it were refused,” he mused. “Excuse me I think I’ll have Simon put her in the salon for now instead of going to hospital. He really shouldn’t be driving when he should be taken in to prison instead.” He ran off with the detective inspector on his heels
They stopped Simon just as his wheels hit the driveway.
“Simon Arbor, get out of the car you are under arrest for the kidnapping of Sarah Harfield,” the Detective Inspector said pointing his gun at him.
“You’ve no proof” Simon argued as Felton pulled him from the car. The Chief inspector arrived at that point.
“We’ve caught you red handed,” Felton said. “They got that way from handling the rope, we also have evidence that you were in the cemetery. You have dirt on your shoes.”
“So do you!” Simon argued fighting back. “We all do!”
“Not these shoes but the ones in your room along with the clothes you changed out of once she threw food on you earlier today. In the suit coat pocket there is a button that came off the shirt you picked it up off of the floor in Sarah’s room from when she tried to resist you. It is just like the one I found in there too.”
The evidence showed that Simon was the one who had taken the rest of the girls too. Once he was taken away the Chief turned to Felton’s father-in-law.
“Detective Inspector,” The Chief said. “I had my doubts when you put a plant in with this family. But it seems that you have finally caught that dangerous criminal.”
“Thank you, Sir, but it wasn’t me who caught the criminal. You see it was as I was telling you all along,” he said with a slight smirk. “The butler did it.”